As Muslims it is our duty to pursue the learning process while breath still fills our lungs and our brains are capable of thought. As parents we are blessed to witness the miracle of learning and are responsible for fostering a love of learning in our children. As teachers we are gifted with spiritual and secular knowledge of the world: Quran and sunnah, language or culture, science or mathematics, anatomy or psychology.
The great challenge we face is inspiring children to love learning more than the amusements and distractions of this life, in order to prepare them for something greater in the next, in shaa allah. Teaching a child how to think for themselves, how to follow their dreams, and how to use their creative abilities to teach others are all necessary ingredients of a strong ummah.
Childhood Sets the Pace for Learning
Recall your fondest childhood memories. Think of the afternoons spent in umi’s kitchen— the textures, tastes, and magical science behind the concocting of edible creations for the family.
Think of the summer days in the warming sun with your hands in the soft dirt, feeling the tender leaves of sproutlings and smelling the distinct aroma of the tomato vine. Think of the first time you were allowed to help in Papa’s store, helping customers and experiencing the gratification of a hard day’s work.
All of these experiences and memories, whatever they may be, help mold our adult selves.
If your mother can teach you to love cooking fulfilling meals for the family and your father can teach you a strong, positive work ethic, how can positive memories of learning language in youth not encourage children to love language as adults?
Overcoming Learning Obstacles
As we grow into different cultures over the vast expanse of many lands, our birth language is less likely to be Arabic, and since children learn most from their parents, it is vital that parents take the necessary steps to teach or have a child taught.
Verily, We have sent it down as an Arabic Quran in order that you may understand. [Quran 12:2]
It is much easier nowadays to read a translation of Quran rather than facing the “burden” of learning Arabic as an adult when the task seems difficult or impossible. If parents feel burdened to learn the language of the most important book of our lives, how can they expect their children to feel?
If you are a parent, make dua that learning will be easy for you so that you may teach your child and seek resources to help you and your child learn. If you are a teacher, encourage parents to take part in the learning process and help them find resources that will ease their difficulty. It is through learning that we are empowered to teach and in teaching lies immense blessing.
Our Prophet Muhammad (saw) was known to have said, “The best amongst you is the one who learns the Quran and teaches it.”[Bukhari]
Embracing Learning Differences
Some children learn faster than others, and some teachers inspire one child more than another. The important task of teaching is to understand each individual child’s needs, interests, and learning styles. By doing so, we cater specifically to the needs of that child and enhance the learning process.
Children who are visual learners benefit from pictures and images while those who are aural learners get the most from sound. Verbal learners pick up concepts faster when using verbal instruction and practice repetition, as opposed to physical learners who must touch and feel to fully understand.
Individual students also have varying social and solitary needs, so a teacher must be able to recognize when a child feels isolated or is overstimulated, providing for them a healthy environment for learning based on those needs.
Providing children with ample opportunity to learn in a variety of ways will prove a strong foundation for grasping difficult concepts so that they may continue building a sturdy structure with education, in shaa allah. Use videos and books, pictures and plays, be creative and be surprised at how much students appreciate the challenges and grow from them. Don’t be afraid to try something new! It may or may not be successful, but by not taking a chance you may miss out on a great learning experience.
The Parent, Teacher, and Curriculum Connection
Schools have grown immensely over the years and there is an abundance of language learning materials spread far and wide. But even with the best of curriculums, a teacher who lacks passion and enthusiasm cannot expect a child to be inspired to learn. Even the best of teachers face difficulty when parents take no interest or initiative in their child’s study and do not fully appreciate the unique accomplishments of that child.
A Quranic Arabic curriculum should provide students with the chance to hear, see, write, think, learn, and understand. A program that follows these standards will encourage a love for learning. Provide students with opportunity to practice in the classroom and at home. Give them a clearly defined goal that reaches just beyond what they may be capable of. Reward them with kindness and appreciation, a job well done, and a chance to showcase their new abilities.
Teachers should love what they do every day despite the challenges and frustrations that are bound to arise. Enthusiastic and kind teachers will open students up for learning. Harsh rules, unkind words, and lack of enthusiasm can create bad memories and bitterness in a child.
Conversely, lenient teachers who do not work hard to understand student needs or who fail to gently push each one to be their best may create mental road blocks, and stubbornness, and lack of motivation. As with all things, moderation is best.
Parental involvement holds the key to unlocking student success. If parents show no interest in what their child is learning, that child will probably do poorly or misbehave and have low self esteem. Parents must be encouraged to be involved in school and outside of school. Parents and teachers must communicate for success. Student showcases are a great way to honor achievement, and parent-teacher meetings are the perfect place to discuss a childs strengths and weaknesses.
. . . and Allah (swt) Knows Best.
The best lesson can be learned from Prophet Muhammad (saw), who had the most difficult task of all. Being unable to read or write, our prophet (saw) was able to convey the message of Allah (swt), truly a miracle and a blessing for all who seek knowledge.
My Lord, increase me in knowledge. [Quran 20:114]
We must strive to be the best Muslims, students, parents, and teachers, and Allah (swt) knows best our capabilities and intentions. Through life we are all students and teachers at different levels and all ages. As much as we push our children to learn, we also should take care to learn from their eagerness and motivation. No matter what you teach, may Allah (swt) bless your efforts and make them fruitful.
Praying you will benefit.